Fact check: Trump rewrites Wisconsin history in rally filled with false claims

Former President Donald Trump made more than two dozen false claims at his Tuesday campaign rally in Racine, Wisconsin, including two significant attempts to rewrite Wisconsin history.

The first was a slightly vaguer than usual version of his familiar lie that he won Wisconsin in the 2020 presidential election. He lost the state by 20,682 votes.

The second was a version of a false claim Trump delivered in 2020 and again in 2022: his assertion that he had saved the Wisconsin city of Kenosha from destruction in 2020 when Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, refused to take action to deal with the civil unrest that followed the police shooting of a Black man.

“By the way, you know, Kenosha: I saved Kenosha, do you know that? When I was president. Right? Right? I saved it,” Trump said Tuesday. “Kenosha was — Kenosha was about ready to go down the tubes and the governor wouldn’t move, he just wouldn’t move, and I moved. You know, I’m not supposed to; it’s supposed to be the governor, is supposed to do it, the mayor and the governor.”

Facts First: Trump’s claims that Evers “wouldn’t move” and that Trump was the person who “saved Kenosha” are false, as numerous fact-checkers pointed out when he made similar claims in 2020. Evers, not Trump, deployed the Wisconsin National Guard during the rioting in Kenosha — and Evers first deployed the Guard the day before Trump publicly demanded that Evers do so. In other words, Trump insisted that Evers do something that he was already doing.

Trump has repeatedly made a near-identical false claim about another state, Minnesota, that had a Democratic governor and civil unrest in 2020. Though Trump has asserted that he deployed the National Guard to Minneapolis over the objection of Gov. Tim Walz, it was Walz who deployed the Guard to Minneapolis hours before Trump demanded that he do so.

The 2020 unrest in Kenosha, which involved both peaceful protests and acts of violence and vandalism, followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake by a White police officer who was responding to a domestic disturbance call on August 23, 2020. (State and federal law enforcement later decided not to file charges against the officer.)

On Tuesday, after Trump repeated his false claim, the governor’s office provided CNN with the same timeline it had sent to reporters when Trump had made the claim in 2020. The timeline, which is corroborated by public evidence, conclusively debunks Trump’s narrative.

Trump tweeted on the night of August 25, 2020, that the “governor should call in the National Guard in Wisconsin.” But the governor had already done so by then. Evers authorized the deployment of 125 Wisconsin National Guard troops just after 3 a.m. the day prior to the tweet, then doubled the deployment to 250 troops on the afternoon of the tweet – more than four hours before Trump weighed in.

Evers continued to deploy more Wisconsin National Guard troops in the coming days, and he also accepted National Guard troops from three other states; they were never federalized. Evers did accept limited federal assistance from the US Marshals Service and the FBI, his office said, but that’s no basis for Trump’s claims that he saved the city when Evers wouldn’t.

The idea that the city’s very existence was ever threatened is also questionable, but we’ll leave that aside here.

Other Trump false claims

Trump made lots of other false claims during the Racine rally. Here’s a quick fact check on 12 of them:

· He said “the world was at peace” when he was president in 2020, though there were numerous ongoing armed conflicts.

· He said Democrats rigged the 2020 election, which did not happen.

· He said people’s votes “tend to disappear” after they are cast, which is just not true.

· He said the country is “in the middle of the worst crime wave in modern history,” though preliminary statistics show crime declined sharply in 2023 and the first quarter of 2024.

· He said he has been indicted more times than notorious gangster Al Capone, who was indicted at least six times to Trump’s four.

· He said somebody left cocaine at the White House “about a month ago,” though that happened about 11 months ago, and said it was “hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cocaine,” though photos show the cocaine was in a small bag worth nothing even remotely close to that amount.

· He said he went to Washington, DC, the other day for one of his trials, though the trip was actually for meetings with congressional Republicans.

· He said then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi turned down his offer of 10,000 soldiers at the Capitol January 6, 2021; there is no evidence she ever received such an offer, and she wouldn’t have had the power to reject it if she did.

· He said no previous president had taken even 10 cents “out of China” from tariffs; the US has had tariffs on China since the 1700s and generated billions per year from them under predecessor President Barack Obama — and study after study has shown that Americans pay the tariffs, not China.

· He said Syria and Turkey have been fighting over their border “for 2,000 years,” though historians have said this is nonsense: Turkey and Syria were both part of the Ottoman Empire, and the modern border between them is less than 100 years old.

· He said he thinks cumulative inflation under Biden is “40 or 50 percent”; it’s actually about 19%.

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